Imphal, July 14:
The High of Manipur vide order dated 13.06.2021 has issued notice to the respondents and stayed the notification No. H-1601/6/2020-HD dated 30.06.2021 issued by Special Secretary, Home Department, Government of Manipur after a Public Interest Litigation (PIL No. 34 of 2021), Osbert Khaling vs State of Manipur & two Others filed by Ms. Carolin Kasar (Advocate and Mr. Osbert Khaling (Petitioner and Advocate). The counsel for the petitioner submitted that prioritizing vaccinated people is discriminatory and a clear violation of Articles 14, 19, and 21 of the Constitution of India as there is no clarity regarding the effectiveness of the vaccine against the new mutant, denial of entitlement, and rights-based on mandatory vaccination should be illegal.
It was argued by the counsel for the state that the said impugned notification is an appeal to the public and not mandatory. The counsel for the petitioner further submitted that the notification in its language itself is coercive in nature thereby making it mandatory, even NREGA job cardholders are being deprived of their work due to being unvaccinated. The pandemic and lockdown have largely hindered the economic and financial conditions of the street vendors, hawkers, labourers and many others who are sustaining by means of daily wages. Therefore such notification clearly deprives the unvaccinated marginalized sections and further violates Article 21 of the constitution which gives the right to live and livelihood.
The counsel for the petitioner further submitted that though vaccination is the need of the hour and the government is prudent on the safety of health yet such directions or conditions for resuming, one’s business or profession clearly lacks legitimacy as it violates Article 19(1)(g) of the constitution. Lastly, the counsel stated that such mandating/prioritizing of vaccination policy will further bring gap and inequalities in society and disproportionately affect the poor and marginalized section of people which might also lead to hatred and enmity.
The court observed that the state cannot be coercive in nature and it is the duty of the state to spread awareness of the vaccination and therefore the vaccination should be on a voluntary basis. Further observed that the recent death of a woman after taking the vaccination has caused fear in the mind of people as the actual cause of the death went unreported. The court has ordered the state to file its reply within two weeks.
The present PIL was filed with the active initiative of the Human Rights Law Network (Manipur).